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(506) 223-1327          Published Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 227        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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A.M. Costa Rica photo
for Escazú

A workman is putting the finishing touches on a true obelisk that has been constructed at a shopping center in San Rafael de Escazú where Banco Uno is setting up shop.

The site is certain to be a landmark: <Del obelisco 50 metros oeste . . . .>

Health officials act to stem Matina malaria outbreak
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Salud has declared a malaria alert around Matina in the Provincia de Limón.

Since Friday 42 cases of the disease have been reported to health officials, and some of the infections are of a particularly dangerous type, said the ministry.

The type of malaria has not been seen in the country since 2003, the ministry said, identifying it as Plasmodium falciparum. This is the most serious form of malaria that has the highest rate of complications and mortality, according to health officials. In Africa, this type of malaria accounts for 90 percent of the deaths. A second type of malaria, which also is present in the Matina area is Plasmodium vivax. Both are protozoa that enter the body through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito..

The ministry said that the Matina area on the Caribbean coast has 80 percent of the malaria reported in the country.
Those who have the disease are all Costa Rican residents of the area and they are responding to treatment, said the ministry. However, officials said they have begun to take steps for aggressive control of the outbreak. This includes fumigation for mosquitoes and destruction of the standing water where mosquito larva live.

Seven cases have been reported in Matina proper.  Golí has 3 cases. Estrada and 23 Millas each have two cases, and these communities have one case each: 4 Millas, Zent Nuevo, San José Creek, Bananita, Las Brisas, La Maravilla, Banasol, Corina Abajo and Barrio Jackson.

For personal protection, the ministry said persons should use screens and repellent.

A big danger, the ministry said, is that sufferers under treatment begin to feel better after three or four days and then they stop taking medicine.

This is a grave danger for the health of the whole country, said the ministry because such actions can help create strains resistant to the medications.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 227

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Some legislators object
to U.S. Coast Guard visits

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 19 legislative deputies objected Tuesday night to the docking of U.S. Coast Guard boats that are on drug patrol in the Pacific and the Caribbean. They voted against the proposal.

Under the Costa Rican Constitution, foreign warships and aircraft need legislative approval to enter Costa Rica.

However, 30 deputies voted in favor of the measure, and three U.S. cutters, the  Steadfast, Alert and Active can dock at any Costa Rica port through Jan. 31.

The boats are on anti-drug patrol under an agreement with Costa Rica signed in 1999. Some 16 other Coast Guard boats were given approval to make a short visit at an undetermined port during the same period.

The discussion of visits by coast guardsmen at the legislature always brings out negative responses, particularly from the Partido Acción Ciudadana. Independent legislator José Merino del Río of Partido Frente Amplio objected Monday when the measure first came up. He said the ships have been on patrol for a long time but there still are drugs getting to school kids.

Roadblock gives police
prime motorcycle suspect

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The robber was so well known that motorcycle delivery drivers for Pizza Hut would simply stop their vehicle and walk away when they saw him.

The suspect arrested was 29-year-old David Cascante Agüero of Los Guidos de Desamparados, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. He was detained at a roadblock Tuesday.

In all, Pizza Hut lost 45 motorcycles, said agents. Cascante is being investigated for a robbery Sunday in Desamparados and another two months ago in Zapote.

Agents said they had confiscated 69 motorcycles that are listed in robbery and theft reports, thanks to a joint series of roadblocks by the Fuerza Pública and judicial agents. Some 472 motorcycles have been taken by criminals this year.

Agents said the usual method is for a robber to stick a gun in the face of a motorcycle driver. But some of the motorcycles were simply stolen when their owners were elsewhere.

Braille ballots are being
distributed for Dec. 3 vote

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Each of the 4,852 polling places being used for the Dec. 3 municipal elections will have braille ballots available for the first time, said the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones.

The tribunal is beginning the process of getting the ballots out to the various polling places. Advocates for the blind made an issue of the right to a secret ballot during the February presidential elections. They said the secrecy was lost if a sighted person had to read the ballot to blind voters and then mark the ballot. The Sala IV constitutional court agreed.

Some  4,951 local officials will be elected. Some 2.6 million persons are eligible to vote. Turnout is expected to be less than a million.

Mayoral candidates plan
roundtable discussion

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Want to see the candidates for mayor of San José in action?
The candidates will be guests at a roundtable at the Universidad de Costa Rica tonight at 6 p.m.

They are the current mayor, Johnny Araya Monge of the Partido Liberación Nacional, and challengers Jorge Arturo Robles Arias of the Partido Acción Ciudadana and Antonio Alexandre Garbia of Movimiento Libertario.

The topic is the challenges facing San José. The session is in Aula 118 of the Escuela Libre de Derecho, and it is free but in Spanish. Elections for municipal and canton mayors all over the country are Dec. 3.

Public employees to share
$111.5 million Yule gift

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Hacienda will pay out some 58 billion colons Dec. 6 to public employees. This is the annual aguinaldo, and the dollar amount is $111.5 million.

For full-time employees who worked all year, the payment represents a month's pay. Employees get all of it, too, because under the law no payments need to be made to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Employers do not have to make such social security payments either.

About 157,000 employees are involved from all branches of the government. Included are about 60,000 teachers.  Some 55,700 pensioners also will get paid.

Engineering firm to add
60 local employees

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agilis Engineering in Ultrapark, Barreal de Heredia, says it will add about 60 Costa Rican mechanical engineers. The Florida firm specializes in the engineering design of turbines for aircraft and power generators. It also is involved in the aerospace industry.

Frank O'Neill, company founder and president, said that the firm set up a facility here because of the stability of the government, the incentives to foreign investment and the work ethic of the people.

Among those visiting the installation Tuesday at its inauguration was President Óscar Arias Sánchez.

Murdered woman ID'd in Jacó

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A woman found strangled on the beach at Jacó over the weekend has been identified as María Concepción Zamora Medina, 26. She lived near the beach. Investigators suspect a close male friend.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 227

Arias administration aides ready rewrite of immigration law
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The executive branch is expected to present a rewrite of the immigration law to legislators in December.

That was the announcement by the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública Tuesday. The announcement gave few details except to say that officials wanted to improve the section that makes human trafficking a crime, particularly if the human rights of the victims are violated.

The rewrite was the product of discussions among Fernando Berrocal, the minister; Ana Durán, the vice minister; Mario Zamora, the director general of Migración y Extranjeria, and Daniel Soley, a member of the staff of the Defensora de los Habitantes.

The changes to the current law will be studied at Casa Presidencial before being submitted to the legislature.

The Arias administration tried to stop the current law from going into effect. That law was passed by the previous legislature and went into effect in mid-August. Officials said they thought the law was draconian. The law provides penalties for hiring, housing and helping illegal immigrants.

The summary of the proposed changes is directed at Nicaraguan immigrants. The statement from the ministry said that about 600,000 persons in the country are illegal and at least half of those are Nicaraguan citizens. The number of illegals, if correct, represents 14 percent of the population.

If that were the case in the United States, the population of illegal residents would be four times what it is now. The U.S. current estimate is 11 million.

The ministry said that officials hoped to inaugurate a new model of immigration that legalizes the process of integration of the migrant population by means of payments to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social and with participation in communal works of social benefit.

The ministry also said that it wanted to push the development of participation of the members of this immigrant population in the resolution of communal problems.

Also in the changes are the simplification of procedures and the creation of a migratory labor law. There were no
specifics or comments that might affect North American retirees.

The current law has been criticized by human rights workers and the Catholic Church for being too hard on illegal immigrants. So far, immigration has not enforced the new law with vigor.

The immigration system itself is in a state of meltdown. Expats complain that they have to wait a year to get appointments to complete applications for various forms of legal residency.

The administration sought to eliminate the people who monopolize and sell places in various waiting lines at the La Uruca facility. After several well publicized police operations, some expats report that the individuals are back in business.

The immigration department has been the scene for several corruption investigations. Most of these revolve around issuing residencies to ineligible individuals based on false documents or false marriages.

Two years ago officials eliminated the rentista and pensionado department and lumped North American and European expats in the same section as all other immigrants.

The new immigration law was designed to halt illegal immigration and provide a legal basis for breaking up the networks that bring illegals into the country.

However, Costa Rica has been hailed into the hemispheric Court of Human Rights because Nicaragua said that its citizens were being treated badly here. That came after a Nicaraguan thief died from dog bites after he tried to burglarize a junk yard. Police stood by and did nothing to help the man. The dead man was the basis for many jokes by Costa Ricans in subsequent weeks.

At the same time violence broke out between some Costa Ricans and some Nicaraguans over the lack of police action. Another Nicaraguan died in such a dispute.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez is seeking to be less confrontational with the Nicaraguans here. Officials also know that the bulk of the Nicaraguan illegal immigrants live in substandard housing, hold minimum wage jobs and could represent a formidable force to destabilize the country if provoked.

Workshop on 'healing losses' will be Saturday at Unity with Jack Miller
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Unity Costa Rica, an organization keyed towards spiritual guidance, is hosting American psychologist Jack Miller Saturday. Miller is the author of “Healing our Losses,” and the workshop goes by the same name.  Some of the central themes of the event include meditation, dream interpretation, creative visualization, and an opportunity to “share your losses.”  The free event is open to whoever
wishes to attend, but is also a prerequesite for Miller's Phoenix Project, Unity said.

The Phoenix Project begins Jan. 15 and is a continuation of the ideas presented at Saturday's workshop.  Miller is the

founder of the Center for Education on Death and Dying, founder of the Cook County Hospital's palliative-care program, and was involved in the establishment of Chicago House for those suffering from AIDS. 

Miller's recent work and upcoming presentation is more geared towards emotional and spirtitual growth.  Unity is located in Piedades, west of Santa Ana.

Unity Costa Rica prides itself on providing a secure environment where one can explore diverse spiritual ideas from any tradition.  More information about Unity Costa Rica or the seminar hosted by Miller is available at 203-4411.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 227

U.S. is putting in place rules for international adoptions
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United States is in the final stages of implementing new, federal-level standards and protections that affect thousands of children from around the world in need of permanent families.

The implementation of these standards and the anticipated U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions was discussed at a hearing Tuesday before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations.

The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is a formal international agreement designed to ensure transparency in adoptions to prevent trafficking, kidnapping, smuggling and baby-selling.  The United States has signed the convention and is moving toward formal ratification in 2007.

The Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 is the mechanism established to carry out the functions required under the convention.  The adoption act became law Oct. 6, 2000. A regulatory framework currently is being put in place to comply with the provisions of both the convention and the adoption act to move the United States toward formal ratification.

In her testimony, Catherine Barry, the deputy assistant secretary of State for overseas citizens services, said that Friday marks the deadline for adoption services to apply for accreditation under the new standards.

This past summer, Ms. Barry said, the Department of State signed memoranda of agreement with the Council on Accreditation and Colorado’s Department of Human Services, designating them as accrediting entities.  These two entities will have the power to accredit, temporarily accredit or approve adoption service providers.

The accrediting entities are required to keep the Department
of State informed of any problems, such as complaints from adoptive parents, birth parents, adoptees and other involved parties on compliance with the Hague Convention and the adoption act, Ms. Barry said.

The Department of State is working closely with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security for approval of the home studies that must be prepared by accredited adoption agencies.

Lori Scialabba, associate director for immigration's Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate, told the hearing that adoption act amendments to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act, once they take effect, will broaden the definition of a child who may be adopted.  Under the new rules, a child with two living biological parents may be adopted if the parents are incapable of providing proper care to the child and the parents have freely given a written, irrevocable release for that child’s emigration and adoption.

Rep. Christopher Smith, chairman of the House subcommittee, said the United States adopts more children from abroad than all the other countries combined.

The number of foreign children adopted annually by American citizens, Smith said, has doubled over the last decade from 11,340 to 22,739.  The top four sending countries over the past five years are China, Russia, Guatemala and South Korea. Only South Korea has not signed the Hague Convention.

Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, affirmed that the Hague Convention makes clear that the eligibility and suitability of prospective adoptive parents are determined by the sending country.  The receiving country determines and approves eligibility and suitability through a home study of the prospective adoptive parents based on a comprehensive review of family and medical history, social environment and reasons for adoption that meet the sending country’s requirements, Smith explained.

Glencairn posts record income on gold sales but still shows a small loss
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Canadian gold mining company Glencairn Corp. posted a third quarter net loss of $3.2 million or a U.S. penny per share, in part due to lower than expected recoveries from the Costa Rican Bellavista Mine, the firm said.  Gross income was a record,  $14.1 million.

The bulk of the loss was attributed to refurbishing the newly aquired Libertad mine in Nicaragua, a project that required extensive expenditures to return the mine to a normal operating condition, the firm said.  The company's Limon mine, also located in Nicaragua, posted modest earnings of $800,000, but this was not enough to compensate for the other mines' net loss, according to the company's quarterly report for the period ending Sept. 30.

Peter Tagliamonte, Glencairn's company president and CEO, admited that programs to optimize operations at both the Limon and Bellavista mines fell short of expectations in the last quarter, but pointed out that the company is in an
investing and building stage: "We are making investments in our mining operations for the long-term, which require considerable funding. We believe the Libertad Mine has the potential to become a significant, profitable producer, and we are starting to see improvements from the measures we have implemented."

A delayed completion of the grinding mill is blamed for the lower production rates at the Bellavista Mine near Miramar and Puntarenas.  The mill is to be operational this quarter and gold recoveries are expected to improve, the firm said. Metallurgical test work at the Libertad mine site also reported to be extremely encouraging and a better performance overall is expected by the company in the next quarter, it said.

The Bellavista mine uses open pit technology. Rock is crushed and leached on the surface, which is why the grinding mill is used.

The mine is about 70 kms (44 miles) west of San José.

U.N. report says that bottom trawling for fish is destroying irreplaceable coral
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new United Nations report says the fishing practice known as bottom trawling is destroying irreplaceable coral and underwater mountains, and it says the damage cannot be repaired.

Some commercial trawlers drag large nets made of chains across the ocean floor to catch fish that live far beneath the surface.
The scientists who wrote the report say bottom trawling is tearing up coral thousands of years old. They say the coral is home to numerous species of fish and other sea life, including some fish species that have yet to be identified.

The experts say the damaged coral can never grow back.

The U.N. released the new report as it considers a worldwide ban on bottom trawling in waters not currently covered by international rules.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 227

Japanese Government supports development of judo here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Japanese government is supporting the Costa Rican national judo team with a donation of $220,000.

The donation was formalized at a ceremony in Casa Amarilla, the foreign ministry, Tuesday.  Yoshihiko Sumi, the Japanese ambassador, represented his country where judo originated in the 19th century.

Also there were Osvaldo Pandolfo Rímolo, vice minister of Salud en Deportes and president of the Consejo Nacional de Deportes y Recreación; Pedro Ureña, director of the Instituto Costarricense del Deporte y la Recreación, and Guillermo Sánchez, president of the Federación de Judo. Officials plan to purchase some 400 tatami or mats, some 200 uniforms and four scoreboards

Japan has made the donation as part of its cultural program, which since 1975 has brought some $6 million to the country. The donation will be a stimulus to the sport, which is being included in the national games in January. The judo facilities are in Parque la Sabana.

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Costa Rica's national judo team: Sebastian Sancho Chinchilla, 8, Julián Sancho Chinchilla, 10, Kevin  Sancho Calvo Zuñiga, 19, and Fabrici Ávila Barboza, 15.

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